CHESS

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The Independent Culture
Modern theory has, I fear, left me bemused. In the golden age of chess, one could play 10 or 20 moves of a Queen's Gambit or Ruy Lopez in the safe knowledge that White had a small advantage but that patience and accuracy would earn Black a draw. Nowadays, however, the theoreticians change their minds from day to day and never seem to settle on a confirmed opinion about anything. Let us call for a moratorium on these sharp openings, until they have sorted themselves out and can guide us back to the paths of technical correctness - before more games like this one ensue.

White: Jonathan Parker

Black: Andrew Martin

British Championship, Hove 1997

1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d5 Nd4 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Qb6

When I last looked into the theory of this line, it was deemed bad for Black because of what now happens:

8.Nxd4 cxd4 9.Na4 Qa5+ 10.Bd2

Only a total scoundrel would take the draw that can be forced by 10.b4 Qxb4+ 11.Bd2 Qa3 12.Bc1 Qb4+ etc.

10 ...Qc7 11.c5

With a clear advantage to White, according to theory, since 11...dxc5 12.Bb5+ or 11...Nf6 12.f3 dxc5 13.Rc1 are bad for Black. As we shall see, things are not so clear.

11...Nf6 12.f3 0-0 13.Rc1 e6! 14.Bb4

White takes up the challenge. A more placid opponent might have settled for dxe6 followed by cxd6.

14...exd5 15.cxd6 Qd8 16.e5 Re8 17.f4 Ne4 18.Qxd4

Relying on his central pawn wedge, White prepares to sacrifice the exchange.

18...Qh4+ 19.g3 Nxg3 20.hxg3 Qxh1 21.Kf2 h5!

Applying the traditional formula of undermining a pawn chain at its base.

22.Rc3 h4! 23.Bg2 Qh2 24.gxh4 Qxh4+ 25.Ke3 (See diagram)

Noticing that 25.Rg3 would have fallen foul of 25...Bxe5! White gives his queen some protection. It does not help.

25...Rxe5+!! 26.fxe5 Bh6+ 27.Kd3 Bf5+ 28.Be4

Even this sacrificial gesture only postpones the inevitable.

28...Bxe4+ 29.Ke2 Bf3+! 30.Kd3 Be2+ White resigned.

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